The biggest mistake managers and leaders make it they think it’s about them. “It’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position.”- Stanley Huffty
The true measure of success as a leader or manager is reflected in the development of those who report to you. Too many times in management this has not been the case. Often someone gets promoted and they go on an ego/power trip that can destroy an organization or team that was functioning very well before they were promoted. Think about the very best leaders or managers you have ever followed. What did they have in common?
Typically, the very best leaders knew that they were not the center of universe and they needed others to accomplish any and every thing. When speaking to doctors, I often ask them why they have a staff? Usually the answer is something like “so I get things done and accomplish my vision and mission.” Exactly. They can’t do it alone.
Accomplishing goals in business takes a group of folks committed to the same purpose. Goals of significance require the investment in others to make it happen. You can’t do it alone and you can’t force it. You need to lead it. The true measure of leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less. How you influence others is in developing, nurturing, coaching and adding skills to those who report to you.
Every leader or manager should have one goal when they are in charge of a team: create in them your replacement. As counter intuitive as this may sound, it is the simplest way to express what your goal is as a manager. So how do we go about creating our replacement?
It starts with you. You are the example everyone will follow. One of the most important elements you will model is that you are a life long learner. Everything about you will say that change is good, learning is better, and life is great! You embrace opportunity and see it for what it is - an opportunity to become better and different, not as a threat. This means embracing new information from all sources; sales representatives, reading materials, on-line portals and then sharing that information with others. Developing others is an exercise in helping them learn and showing them where to learn.
Next, learn to be transparent. Share information about what you are going through with your team. Get them on the same page as you by trusting them with some information about what you are working on. (Don’t share everything, but enough to make them feel like they are with you.)
Finally, take the pressure off of yourself thinking you have to have all the answers. You don’t. Facilitate learning and development by putting issues on the table and working together to come up with the solution. You are developing your team to think, talk, lead, and embrace issues while you are guiding and nurturing them. Trust me, you will want this process in the open so that you can see who is developing and becoming leaders in their own light. You still maintain all veto power, so don’t freak out, but let the cream rise to the top. You may be very surprised whose voice is listened to the most and who is the true leader of your group of direct reports. This is also critical learning because you will know who has influence with others!
Developing others is the greatest gift you can give as a manager. It shows that you trust your team and you respect what they bring to the table. They will remember that for as long as they live, trust me.